tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 8, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
now. i was also talking to law enforcement sources in washington. there were no threats that they had gotten in reference to congresswoman giffords, any threats against her life that they know of. they're looking into that right now because, as you know, u.s. capitol police provides protection for members of congress. if that had been the case, there would have been members of the u.s. capitol police for her protection on the scene with her. but right now it's very, very early in the investigation and we're going to try to find out the identity of this perpetrator who they say is in custody, marty. >> mike, you're saying that even when they go home to their constituents they would have the same security force they would have around them in washington? >> they would make a threat assessment. let's say they got a number of letters, somebody coming to one of her offices there in arizona. if they thought there was going to be a credible threat they would provide a protection
detail. usually not, but it's up to the dignitary protection division of the u.s. capitol police that would make that call. but what i'm hearing from sources is that there was no threat against her that would merit a protection detail. >> all right. well, again, you're confirming to us that you're saying you're hearing from authorities there that the suspect or shooter has been apparently taken into custody. is that right? >> that's correct. that's what i'm hearing from law enforcement sources close to the investigation. >> and that would seem to be reflected by what our eyewitness on the scene, jason pekau -- i know he was describing what they were searching through vehicles. it didn't sound like the frantic concern there was still a gunman on the loose. jason, you still with us? >> yes. >> what is happening now? i've seen your photographs that are coming in. and thank you. we're seeing that clearly the parking lot has been marked off and i presume we're seeing also the early stages of an investigation here. correct? >> yes, that's correct.
>> and the attitude of people around there. can you tell? what are people saying? what are people doing? >> from what i can tell, multiple people i've talked to in the area, they are obviously somber, a lot of them have known her for a long time, distraught. a lot of the law enforcement officers seem to be kind of walking around feeling a little down about it. it's pretty traumatizing to everybody here. >> did you know this event was taking place today? was it widely publicized? did you know the congresswoman was going to be prentd present? >> yes, as a matter of fact i did. we were told in the actual shopping center here it was going to be happening today and i saw it on her web site. >> dana bash, i want to bring you back because you were actually speak together congresswoman this week, of course, congress was swoorn in. it was a big day. she was held office for a while but she's still young and still
relatively new and she's probably still very optimistic. dana, tell us about when you spoke to her last. obviously dana bash is not still with us. we'll try to reconnect with her. she was discussing how she was actually speaking in the halls of congress with representative gabrielle giffords. breaking news out of tucson, arizona, this hour. several people perhaps a dozen or more have been shot at a safeway grocery store including a u.s. congresswoman. according to the public information officer at the pima county sheriff's department 12 people were injured. there are unconfirmed reports that there are fatalities. that is coming from eyewitnesss on the scene. democratic sources told cnn's dana bash that u.s. representative gabrielle it giffords is among the victims. dana, i know you're back with us.
you actually spoke to the congresswoman this week, correct? >> just yesterday, marty. you know, it was the first week back, the first weefk the new congress. lots of buzzing in the hallways. i just happened to bump into her coming off of the house floor, really this time yesterday. she just stopped to chat, to talk about how the break was and she really seemed as though she was reenergied. as we've been mentioning over the past several minutes, she's always somebody who is in a very tough reelection battle. she is a moderate democrat in a pretty conservative arizona district, and it's never easy for her. she had just won her third term in congress and she was telling me p a wonderful trip that she and her family took. she actually it took her parents to rome on a last-minute trip. they were able to get into the vatican for midnight mass. she was just talking about how wonderful that was and also making clear she was looking forward to going back to her home district as most of the members of congress do for the weekends, long weekends, to
reconnect with her constituents. that's where she was as she was heading. i just wanted to mention one thing xgts you were talking to our eyewitness and others about whether people knew that she was having this event. obviously that was kind of the whole point. she wanted her constituents to come out and have conversations with her about what their concerns are. again, that's one of the basic tenants and pillars of democracy and many of these members of congress take it very seriously. our cnn radio correspondent just e-mailed the tweet from giffords' office right before this advertising this event. she said, "my first congress on your corner start now. please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later." so it's absolutely public. as mike brooks was saying and you and i were talking about earlier, for most of the members of congress, they walk around like you and i do. it is only if there is a specific threat that capitol police and other security officials know about that they get the extra protection.
i will mention one other thing on that note, you remember last year during the health care debate, there was some violence and many democrats had their offices vandalized by people who were pretty angry about the health care situation. she was one of them. she had her district office in arizona vandalized. >> all right. just a moment here, dana, if you would. we want to recap as to what we have been revealing to you. there has been a shooting that has taken place at a grocery store in tucson, arizona. a dozen people according to the public information officer with the sheriff's office out there, pima county, says they have been injured. we have unconfirmed report that there are fatalities. we also know that among those reportedly who have been wounded is congresswoman gabrielle giffords of the eighth congressional district. mike, back to you. dana brought up a good point.
we know that the emotional issues and issues in congress have been ratcheting up with emotion. i'm wondering if this has triggered concerns within the security community as to members of congress and how they would be protected and whether them meeting with their constituents goes back to the very beginning, something that has to be looked at once again. >> well, it's always a concern, marty, and you know it's looked at and any threats, any communication of any veiled threats, are taken very seriously, looked at by a threat assessment group by the u.s. capitol police, also with the fbi because we do have capitol police people in the fbi task force that i used to be in in washington. so these are all taken a look at, and they make an assessment of the credibility of that threat, if it's serious or not. >> all right. i want to go back to jason pekau, he's our eyes on the scene. jason, you're still there?
>> yes. >> so what is being done as far as you said you saw those bodies in the parking lot. how is that being handled? >> right just about three minutes ago as you guys were talking they had a photographer out there actually uncovered one of the bodies. i can see one where i'm standing now. they still have about three or four sheriffs standing at that particular crime scene kind of standing guard at it at the moment. >> jason pekau is eyewitness, actually an earwitness to the shots fired this morning at this safeway grocery store in tucson, arizona. he's been recounting over the telephone as to what he saw and what immediately came thereafter. and just so our viewers understand, you say that you heard 15 to 20 shots that were fired this morning and then came out to an obvious scene of chaos. >> cryeah. it was continuous shooting. there was no break in between. they walked up and i'm assuming
just kept firing. it sounded like tons of pots and pans falling down on the ground right next to my ear. it was so loud. >> and then clearly people would have been shot, tcked, terrifie running away from the scene. when did the first law enforcement get there? >> i was standing outside when they arrived. it felt like forever but probably a minute and a half to two minutes after it happened. >> did you know if there was any law enforcement on the scene at the time? in other words, somebody acting as security. >> from what i can see and i actually asked that question to some of the people that were standing over there, they did not see any law enforcement next to her or around her or in the parking lot. >> mike brooks is reporting to us through his sources that he has heard the suspect may have been taken into custody. i'm just wondering now, hearing that, whether there was something you saw that might reflect in your memory, oh, yeah, maybe they were taking that person away. anything like that?
jason? >> yes. >> i was asking, did you see anything that looked like a person being taken into custody? >> no, i have not seen anything like that. >> ed henry is joining us on the telephone line, i believe. ed? are you there? >> marty, i'm here. >> what have you got? >> i want to be careful to say that the white house has not put out any sort of official statement. they're being careful in releasing information as should be in this case. but i've spoken to other administration officials who are saying that the white house is monitoring this very closely, trying to get as much as they can. the preliminary reports they have were that the congresswoman was shot but that she was responsive at first. but i literally just heard from an administration official saying that they are hearing very bad reports from the scene about the congresswoman's position and also that a congreconvic
congreconvic congressional staffer was shot and possibly i stress possibly has died. this is why the administration is going through this very, very carefully to get as much information as they can so they're not dealing with with speculation. they're dealing with what exactly they can find out. but i can tell you from several different people throughout the obama administration i've been speaking to at various layers they are in complete shock and trying ing ting to jump on thi quickly as possible to get first of all some sort of sense of the congresswoman's condition, her staff's condition, other people who may have been just innocent people and connected to the congresswoman and figure out their conditions. but obviously get a handle on the law enforcement situation to see what exactly is behind this, marty. >> right. you point out, just because we are focusing in our conversation on the congresswoman, that is in no way to say we are not concerned -- we are gravely concerned about others who could have been wounded or possibly killed in the shooting that has taken place at a grocery store,
safeway, in tucson. that happened about 10:00 local time. we understand that perhaps a dozen people or more have been shot. your account at least coming through the wliet house as to the condition of the congresswoman as she was taken away matches that with our eyewitness who is on the scene, jason pekau. he said when he saw the congresswoman i believe being transported to a life flight helicopter it appeared that she was moving, at least in some way. >> right. >> we'll take that, even as small as it is, as some sort of optimistic sign. are the resources or the white house, are they just monitoring? any action they can take? >> it's a good question. to be honest, all i know they're go 'doing right now is monitoring. they're doing what we're doing, trying to find out the best information they can to get on top of the situation. i would not expect them to be deploying something specifically right now in terms of of resources until they fully understand the situation. obviously you can expect that
all different layers from the department of homeland security, justice department, in addition to the white house are going to be looking at anything they can do to help obviously. it certainly in the situation stages seems like a local law enforcement matter and i'm certain the white house won't interfere in that. i want to caution that the white house has not put out any official statement and is not itself speculating on anyone's condition. they are being extremely careful, but i've been speaking to other people in the administration who are getting similar reports as we are in terms of the congresswoman and whatnot. like i said, the initial reports that folks i spoke to in the administration suggested that while the congresswoman had been shot that she was responsive on the scene. but then literally just before you came to me, i spoke to another person in the administration who said that they were suddenly getting information that it was gettingor more grim about the congresswoman's condition. they did not want to speculate
because they want to find out exactly what the truth is on the ground before anybody gets ahead of that. >> as it should be. ed henry joining us on the telephone. kate baldwin is in our d.c. bureau. she, tooshgs like the rest of the team has been following developments there. kate what are you hearing? >> i'm getting this from cnn producer carol consideraty, getting information from fbi. fbi spokesman manuel johnson saying fbi agents have gone to the scene there in tucson, arizona, but they didn't have any information to provide beyond that in these early stages. just a point of caution when you hear the fbi is going to the scene, marty, as you well know, the fbi will go to the scene to assist and try to help in the event of some big shooting, for lack of a better term, or if there is a big event whether or not there would be an elected official there. we're told from an fbi spokesman that fbi agents have gone to the scene and they are there assisting. of course, obviously we're looking for more information. i'll tell you early on when we
started getting these reports marty and you were on air i was reaching out to the congresswoman's office. i spoke to a spokesman for her office who was actually not in tucson at the time, was in the car. i think i was even on speaker phone, in a car headed to the scene. it seems that this person was very focused, very serious, and did not have any information to provide at the moment. >> kate, let me interrupt you for a second. i think we want to go to one of our affiliates that has some information, at least eyewitness looking at the suspect. we have this now? >> my photographer and i were actually headed up to cover the opening of a fire station up here when we saw just several sheriff's os officers switch on her lights and rush to this intersection. we turned around to see what had happened. in minutes they had the entire intersection closed off about a block on each side and they did
that so that they could land three life evac helicopter nz the middle of that intersection. we saw all of that happen. there were about ten ambulances here. there were those three choppers. they loaded people into them as soon as they could and got those 12 injured victims off and to the hospital. we are told that gabrielle giffords was one of those injured. still no update on her status or anyone else's status as of now, but definitely still a very busy scene. we have about eight fire trucks on scene. we still have a couple of ambulances and definitely it's swarming with sheriff's officers, medical personnel, several people on scene still questioning. they went around and they did search all the cars. the officers were making sure there were no other shooters involved. we are told from the bureau chief of pima county sheriff's office richard castagar there
was one shooter. he is now in custody uninjured. they were searching to see if anybody else may have been involve. again, we are not sure yet if they have reason to believe that somebody else is out there. >> all right. you've been listening to a reporter for kgun out there in tucson, arizona. she was describing aloft the information that we had brought to you earlier. suspect now in custody, and those that have been injured, the life flight helicopters have been brought in. again, recapping for you, a dozen people or more have been shot and there are unconfirmed reports of a number of people killed. among those that may have been wounded in this attack is congresswoman gabrielle giffords. eyewitnesss say that is so and she has been transported to the helicopter, that she was responsive at the time. however, doubly troubling is the account by eyewitnesss that say she was shot at very close range and perhaps more than once and that could be true of other victims. we're going to take a break. we'll be back with more in a moment.
[ male announcer ] when diarrhea hits, kaopectate stops it fast. powerful liquid relief speeds to the source. fast. [ male announcer ] stop the uh-oh fast with kao. hello. i am martin savage cnn center, atlanta. we are following breaking news in tucson, arizona. we understand congresswoman gabrielle giffords is among those shot at a grocery store. there are unconfirmed reports that there are fatalities. i should tell you that mpr is now reporting that the congresswoman, congresswoman gabrielle giffords, has, in fact, died as have six other people. this was a scheduled event on the part of the congresswoman's office. it was a congress on the corner event as described by her web
site. she was letting people know, her constituents, that she would be at this grocery store. she had just been recently sworn in as had all members of congress. she had returned and she was having her first get-to-know-you session with with her constituents for this particular term. again, mpr is reporting that congresswoman gabrielle giffords is in fact dead and six other people have been killed. these are images that we have been getting from an eyewitness who was on the scene, that is jason pekau. he was actually working at a store that is right in the parking lot of where this all transpired. he reported hearing 15 to 20 shots in very close succession and then coming out to a scene of absolute chaos. he could see bodies on the ground. he did also see as the congresswoman was being transported to a life flight helicopter. three were brought into the scene. he said she was still responsive at the time, but, again, npr is reporting that the congresswoman and six other people have died. i want to bring in jacqui jeras
because she's been following and looking at the maps for us. jacqui, give us sort of the layout here of this particular scene. >> yeah. we're trying to give people a better idea of where this location is. there you can see downtown tucson area, it's the safeway grocery store up there on the north side of town. this is a pretty busy area we're talking about. safeway a big grocery store in a shopping cent ping within this very busy intersection, right on oracle road. there are a lot of businesses around here. we've been getting ireports in from people who have been at the bagel store nearby, the honey ham store nearby, saying the area is locked down and this intersection is locked down swm. now, we don't have confirmation just yet as to exactly where she is. we were wetold -- sorry, google earth is going crazy on me there -- she was potentially taken to the university medical
center. we do have confirmation that two were taken to the northwestern medical center the. the location is just south of there. there you can see the university medical center in relation to where the safeway is. >> jacqui, thank you very much as we get a look from a bird's-eye view to the layout here. cnn has confirmed as you see that the congresswoman has been killed and we also know, according to npr, that at least six other people have been killed in a shooting that took place at a safeway grocery store in tucson, arizona, this morning. we are continuing to follow developments in this story. we're going to listen in to our affiliate kgun in tucson. >> where they certainly have their hands full this morning with as many as 12 people we understands who were shot earlier today. >> we're still waiting for word from congresswoman giffords' spokesperson, we understand c.j. is out of town, i'm sure just
reacting to the news. we've received dozens and dozens if not hundreds phone calls here in the kgun newsroom, people just sadden and devastated as to what happened. i don't think it matters what side of the aisle you're on. this is just tragic. when you have someone who represents the people, whether you voted for her or not, coming out to meet the people and really make their voices heard encounters this kind of situation. it's just devastating. >> it is. it is certainly very sad. >> we're continuing to monitor that's our affiliate kgun in tucson, arizona. we'll go back to them as soon as we find they have information we need. i want to get to civil via lee, a very close friend. she's joining us on television, a close friend of the congresswoman. for those of you tuning in, cnn has confirmed that congresswoman gabrielle giffords was killed at a shooting that took place at a grocery store. eye number of others killed.
npr reporting up to six others and a number of others have been shot. this story continues to unfold. sylvia lee, are you there with us? >> yes, i am. >> as a friend, want to expresses to you we are very sorry of this news. i'm wondering what it is you're hearing where you are. >> well, i'm actually listening to cnn, but i've gotten phone calls from close friends that knew and loved gabrielle. we are just devastated. this community is devastated. her constituents are devastated. and i think you're right, this is a -- no matter what side of the political realm you're on, this is just a tragedy that is unspeakable. >> sylvia, i was wondering whether you could tell us about the congresswoman's family. she is obviously a young woman, and she is very excited about being in congress. we heard that from dana bash.
what do we know of her family? >> well, we know that she married mark kelly, who is decorated serviceman and astronaut. she had no children except that he had children so she was a stepparent. she was newly married and i served on several boards with her. she is just an incredibly dedicated community servant. she was always willing to talk to her constituents, to be very visible. we know that the congress just got sworn in and started back, and she's already out the very first weekend talking to her constituents. so she was very dedicated, and she was what i would consider one of the moderate democrats who was willing to negotiate, talk to both sides. we think this is really a tragedy beyond words. and we have known that there
have been threats against both her office and congressman raul's office in the past. >> i wanted to ask you that, whether she had ever zpresed to you concern for her personal safety as a result of the job she does. >> no, no. not to me personally. but we do know that there have been threats. >> and getting out and meeting the public, that was something she enjoyed and looked forward to doing. >> absolutely. she, again, was just incredibly caring, loyal, hardworking, and a very caring -- she's just -- if this is true that she has been killed, it is just a tremendous loss for the nation and for our community. >> we've been talking to sylvia lee, a close friend of congresswoman gabrielle giffords who cnn is now confirming among those killed at a shooting at a shopping center, a grossry store, in tucson, arizona.
thank you very much, ma'am. i'm sure we'll be back in touch with you. i want to turn to david fitz simmons who is with the arizona daily star, a political cartoonist. he is on the scene at safeway. david, are you there? >> i'm pretty shaken, frankly. this is a very surreal dream-like experiences. >> david, were you there when this happened? >> i was not. i live nearby. in fact, i would say it's my neighborhood safeway so i sped up here and here i am trapped alive libehind the yellow tape d fire engines and sheriff's vehicles with the press corps. we're on our cell phones and trying to guess what happened because we're waiting for the information officer to hold another informational meeting. >> and the mood of people there. clearly you are all in a state of shock even though you didn't see it happen, to come up on such a scene must be horrible. >> yes, indeed it is horrible. i must tell you as a columnist who has covered politics in this
state, it was inevitable from my perspective. >> why do you say that? >> because the right in arizona -- and i'm speaking very broadly -- has been stoking the fires of heated anger and rage successfully in this state. and you know it's just stunning when you consider congresswoman giffords' positions on the issues. she is a centrist, a moderate. i don't know who the shooter is, have no idea who the shooter is, but what could possibly motivate an individual to be enraged against or to take down a moderate centrist? to me it just paints a picture of how offthe mark the politics of this state has grown. >> i just want to -- david, hold on as i talk with the audience a bit. what we're talking about here is a shooting that has taken place inner arizona, and we know among those who have been killed and cnn has confirmed this, is congresswoman gabrielle
giffords. joining us on the television is david fitzpatrick. david, as a person who is on the scene and obviously a journalist -- fitzsimmons. excuse me. >> thank you. >> you've made very strong statements here. i should point out none of this has been confirmed. >> that is correct. >> we do not know the motivation ever the individual who may have been involved. >> that's correct. >> you believe that the atmosphere of politics in the state of arizona has become so tumultuous this was inevitable. >> so tumultuous and this is a gun-happy state. i myself enjoy guns from time to time. i'm not opposed to guns but for this state it has become a fetish. this is an intense gun culture here in arizona, and the politics of the state does tend to be far to the right, even rabid right. so i was amazed that congresswoman giffords survived this last election. it was very close, and she had a
tea party candidate running against her, but she managed to survive and win a second term. >> when you say survive, of course you were talking about a political aspect here. >> oh, yes, yes, indeed. i want to correct you. i would not describe myself as a journalist. i am a cartoonist, and i am an opinion columnist. >> understood. i understand that. thank you. >> don't expect unbiased truths from me. you'll just get -- >> what we expect is your opinion and what you're seeing on the scene. we do appreciate your insights as well. and this has been an issue raised. again, i just underline that nothing has been proving here as to motivation, but the atmosphere in arizona as a person who lives there, you say that you see politics that has become very emotional and apparently very controversial. >> very emotional, yes. i grew up in arizona, spentd all spent all of my life here. it has evolved into a state that generates a lot of political
heat. that's as kind as i think i'll be today. it's really tough for me because i knew congresswoman giffords. she is one with individual who held great promise as a blue dog democrat, very intelligent, articulate, informed congresswoman who thought a great deal about the future for arizona. it aets just heartbreaking to me that such an individual would be struck down. of. >> david fitzsimmons is a political cartoonist and he is one of those who came up on the scene after the shooting occurred. as he has expressed about himself and many other people, there is a state of shock there. cnn confirming of course that congresswoman gabrielle giffords is among those who have been killed. npr reporting perhaps as many as seven people have been killed. and i want to go back to dana bash because, as david brings
up -- and this is something we were starting to talk about with john king -- the concern that the heated nature of politics might in some way -- i'm sorry. we've lost dana? all right. so what we were speculating here is perhaps the heated nature of politics, the way it has evolved recently, may have had some play into this. we do not know at this point. let's stick with what we do, and that is that there are at least a dozen people, according to the sheriff's office in tucson, arizona, that have been wounded. unconfirmed -- npr is reporting seven dead. cnn has confirmed that among them is congresswoman gabrielle giffords. and we have been monitoring through our affiliate kgun as to events taking place on the scene. we'll take a break and be back with more right after this.
heefr's what we know. a shoot . a shooting has taken place in tucson, arizona. eyewitnesss say congresswoman gabrielle gifrtds were shot as were up to a dozen people or more. there are -- and i stress convi -- conflicting reports whether or not the congresswoman has in fact died. we have been told a number of different things. right now we will -- if we are wroj, we hope it is wrong in the sense she is alive and in surgery, which is the other report coming in at this particular time. so conflict gt repoing reports. we do know eyewitnesss saw her transported in a life flight helicopter and that she was
responsive at that time. so we will say that we hope these new reports that she's in surgery are absolutely correct. unfortunately, other reports say there are fatales. witnesses confirm that, bodies scene at the site of the grocery store. the congresswoman was appearing for what was described as a congress on the corner, typical interaction with constituents. it would have been posted ahead of time. in other words, made public and known that she was going to be there. time fuentes is joining us on the line. tom, i'm wondering how does the investigation begin here and who leads? >> in this case, it's a federal violation to attack or murder a member of congress, just as it would be to attack the president of the united states. the lead agency would be the fbi in this case. they have an office headquartered in phoenix, arizona, and an additional office in tucson. so i'm sure they're at the scene right now beginning that part of
the investigation. but they'll be very concerned with obviously what was the motivation behind this. did the person act alone? is there a greater conspiracy involving other people with this attack? or are there possibly other attack that's could occur against other members of congress or other political figures? so that's -- the investigation will proceed on that basis. >> right. and i suppose that at this point, being so fresh and just after the event, whether we are talking about a domestic crime or somebody here in the united states or whether there is a broader implication, say terrorism -- and there is nothing to affirm that has happened -- these are all considerations that have to be taken into account, right? >> yes, they absolutely are considerations. and i know that there's a tendency for people to want to jump to the conclusion that it's someone on the far right or someone on the far left. but keep in mind that being a member of congress also makes a
person a celebrity. you could have somebody from the far left that maybe thought she wasn't liberal enough. you could have someone from the right saying she was too liberal. you could just have somebody who is a nut wanting to attack a celebrity member of congress to get their 15 minutes of fame. you know, there's a tendency to want to conclude early why someone would do this. from the investigative standpoint, the fbi and the state and local police that all will be working together on this will be avoiding that at the moment. unless of course the person in custody immediately says that's why he did it. >> we understand there is going to be a news conference coming up next hour from the hospital and we believe that is it northwest medical center in tucson, arizona. tom, i'm sure that some sort of all-alert would have gone out to all members of congress or their offices or staff to let them know this had happened and to i guess alert them to be aware, correct? >> absolutely. members of congress, of course,
have their blackberries and they would know immediately that an attack has happened on one of their colleagues. but, you know, all members of congress, everyone in the public arena, is aware of the potential for these kind of attacks, the kind of hate mail that comes in to all members of congress comes in on a continuing basis with with people who disagree with the position they take on any number of policies. obviously arizona has been at the center of the immigration discussion overt last year or two, but there are many other federal policies that are up for discussion now, especially with with the new congress taking office. so, you know, the possibilities are many for why someone or some group of someones would want to commit this act. >> and for security purposes members of congress going out and interacting with the public, it's necessary, but it also has to be troubling if you are a person in charge of protecting that congressperson. >> it is because you're always worried about an attack like this and especially members of
congress, the president, other senior officials want to meet with their constituents, want to be in public places, you know, not hide behind locked doors in ivory towers. and this of course is always everybody's worst fear, that somebody will come out of the woodwork and commit an attack like this. >> can you tell me how often does this happen? is this an extremely rare event? >> i think the killing of a member of congress is, fortunately, a rare event. but the threats or the ideas of people who may want to do that, you know, they stream in on a continuous basis. the supreme court -- the secret service, i'm sorry, will tell you that they receive a continuous stream of threats on the president and other senior officials, and yesterday we just had this incident in washington, d.c., where a package that ignited had been addressed to janet napolitano, secretary of the department of homeland
security. so people in high positions of government, whether it be federal, state or local, are vulnerable to this type of thing, and it is something -- the threats are constant. it's just whether or not someone actually takes it upon themselves to carry it out. fortunately, it doesn't happen any more often than it does. >> tom fuentes, stand by if you would. just recapping, there has been a shooting in tucson, arizona, at a grocery store. there was an event that was taking place. congresswoman gabrielle giffords was meeting with constituents, it was made public. people would have known she was there. she is a democrat from the eighth district, and this wassed first of such a meeting that was taking place since the new congress has been sworn in. and there are conflicting accounts. we do know that there are fatalities. we know that from eyewitnesss who have been on the scene. and one of those who has been on the scene is jason pekau. we spoke to him earlier. let's listen again to what he
described. >> i first heard about 15 to 20 gunshots in the parking lot. i came outside immediately and did not see a vehicle or any people fleeing. i just saw people running, screaming towards where the shooting happened. everyone screaming that it was gabrielle giffords. i did see them take her away on a stretcher to the life flight. she was moving from what i saw with my own eyes. and right now i just see a bunch of people leaving on stretchers and life flights flying out of here at the moment. >> i imagine people there, including yourself, are perhaps in a state of shock. >> yes. from what i'm being told from people that had seen it, that she was shot point-blank in the head by the shooter and then after that basically all chaos broke loose. there was some bullets that went through the window into the safeway that i can see. how many people were hurt i have no idea. >> all right, stay with me
jason. jason pekau, that was a recording played back. we spoke to him earlier. he heard the shots and saw the immediate aftermath. mike brooks is joining us. there will be a news conference next hour, we're told from the hospital where many wounded have been taken. we hope to get an update on their conditions. mike, what more have you learned? >> marty, i was speaking with my federal law enforcement sources. they have confirmed that congresswoman giffords has died along with five other people so far. that's -- so that's a total of six people killed in that horrific shooting there at the safeway. mostly hearing that the person that law enforcement has in custody is a 21-year-old male. now, they're not saying where he lives, not giving any other information for obvious reasons because they're i'm sure in the process of getting search warrants and those kind of things to go to this person's residence, wherever they live. the fbi is on the scene.
the phoenix office is the lead office for this area for pima county. they have a resident agency there in tucson. but the fbi is on the scene and, marty, whatevenever you have a federal officer or a member of congress who is killed it will be an fbi investigation. so fbi will be working with local law enforcement, with tucson, pima county sheriffs, along with the u.s. capitol police. and i'm hearing that they are ramping up now -- >> mike, let me stop you there. we want to move on with some other coverage. thank you very much for that. we also want to reiterate that there are conflicting did t ini at this particular time as to whether or not the congresswoman has indeed died. there are other reports that say she is in surgery and being treated at this time. as we point out, we expect to hear next hour a news conference from the hospital hopefully that will clarify the circumstance. we're going to err on the side that hopefully she is alive and our concern is of course for the
other victims as well who have been wounded. there are reports that as many as perhaps other six people have died as well and with we do know from talking to our eyewitness on the scene there are some fatalities. seshl certainly a lot of heartbreak and heartache coming out of tucson. we'll take a break, be back with more right after this. # idaho! idaho. [ male announcer ] and how do you know you're getting idaho potatoes? well, uh... um... [ male announcer ] not all potatoes come from idaho. so if you want the best, you have to do one important thing. always look for the grown in idaho seal. i knew that. i knew that. [ male announcer ] look for the grown in idaho seal. you can make a big difference. did you know that by march 1st, more than $50 million can be earned by schools just like yours! buy participating products now, to earn your school's share of more than $50 million!
martin savage at the cnn center in atlanta. we're following breaking news coming out of tucson, arizona, a shooting at a grocery store there. we understand that congresswoman gabrielle giffords is among 12 people who were shot. that was just hours ago. there are reports of fatalities. right now the condition of the congresswoman -- well, we've received conflicting accounts. we'll leave it at that. we do know that an investigation
is under way. a number of people were transported by life flight. we are expecting a news conference next hour coming to us from the northwest medical center in tucson to give us an update. we also understand that the shooter has been taken into custody. according to mike brooks, it's a 21-year-old person. bedo not know anything beyond that. mark kelly is an astronaut, also the husband of congresswoman gabrielle giffords. and he was on his way to edwards air force base. we understand he has released this photograph via twitter. that is from a family vacation i think at the grand canyon. this is a photograph of congresswoman giffords with her family and friends presumably on a vacation recently at the grand canyon. that was coming via twitter from mark kelly, her husband, who is an astronaut. let's bring in tom fuentes. tom, going back to what has
taken place here, admittedly we do not know whether she is alive or dead, we're hoping alive of course, but these shootings of congressperson, you say that is actually still rare, fortunately. >> absolutely it's rare, but the plots to do it are not as rare as you might think. these kind of threat situations occur on a regular basis with public officials. they occur with celebrities, with movie stars, with rock stars, you name it. >> with members of congress, who monitors that and who updates members of congress? do they actually tell them, you should be concerned? >> yes. congress itself has an agency that works with them to try to protect them, to try to pass on that information. but, again, any threat information that would come in would certainly be relayed back and forth with the fbi, shared with with the fbi, because they would have jurisdiction in the event something actually occurs as it has in this case.
whether or not her condition kurn turns out to be she's killed or still alive is it's still a federal violation. i'm sure during the press conference they'll announce that the fbi will be the lead agency but they'll be working with pima county and the other state and local authorities, together, to investigate the matter. >> the other voice you're hearing i believe is john cloover. are you there? >> i am. >> is on the scene. why don't you describe what you are seeing now at the scene. >> well, i'm at the shooting scene right now, actually across the street from the shopping center. pretty typical strip mall, martin. you've seen millions of them in america. but they've got the media across the street. the entire shopping center as you can imagine is basically cordoned off with the yellow crime scene tape. there's a lot of sheriff's cars, a lot of ambulances. i presume everybody's been medevaced to umc by this point,
university medical center, which is in the center of town. we're about three miles outside the center of tucson here in the outskirts. that's about it, martin. >> what are people doing? what's their demeanor there? are they in a state of shock? >> reporter: you know, pretty grim actually. i was able to talk to a couple republican ladies from her district, and they looked absolutely -- they looked really sad. they looked very sulen. they said very kind words about her, that she was doing what she's supposed to be doing, meeting with the people, that she always fought for the state of arizona. like i said, these were a couple of republicans from her district. you know, martin, she wasn't a firebrand. i think she was always very conciliatory in her rhetoric. just my opinion, of course, i think quite popular if tucson, despite the politics and whatnot, the campaign with her opponent got pretty ugly, as
they always do. but i would describe her as a very popular congresswoman here. >> well, and she is a democrat and not many democrats got reelected so that would suggest to her popularity in the eighth congressional district there. there were reports that stores z in the area had been in lockdown. i'm wondering if that's been lifted. is there a sense they're still perhaps looking for someone or something? or is it now just matter of fact investigation work. >> nothing that would lead me to believe they are actively searching for anyone. people are outdoors a cafe having their coffee at a coffee shop. you don't have a manhunt going on at all, at least not right here at the crime scene. >> and i presume this a popular gathering place? go together grocery store on a saturday morning is pretty typical everywhere. i presume that's the same where you are. >> well, yeah. like i said, it's a fairly
typical shopping center. it was at a safeway. there's honeybaked ham, a bank of america. you know, a typical, typical shopping center. we're here in the foothills adjacent to the foothills here in tucson. it's quite a beautiful scene all things considered. it could not be more ordinary as far as that goes. i know congresswoman giffords holds these events quite often, and, yeah, like i said, she was a somewhat conservative democrat. i believe martin her husband was a pilot stationed here at davis mountain, the air force base here in tucson. at least he was, perhaps he still is, stationed at the air force base. and so -- but otherwise it's fairly quiet here. >> a horrible scene in a typical place. john kluver, thank you for joining us on the telephone
describing the area where the shooting took place. speaker john boehner has issued a statement. he says, i am horrified by the senseless attack on congresswoman gabrielle giffords and members of her staff. an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. our prayers with with are with congresswoman giffords, her staff, aum who were injured and their families. this is a sad day for our country, that from the speaker ever the house john boehner. he is republican, she is democrat. that has no meaning at a time like this. i just point out the obvious facts. giffords' husband as we pointed out is an astronaut,s and as you just heard john talking about, he's also been a pilot in the tucson area. he released this photograph a short while ago on twitter. it is the family on vacation in the grand canyon. joining us now on the telephone,
darcy slaten, a hospital spokesperson. darcy, are you with us? >> yes, i am. >> you're with with which hospital? >> university medical center in tucson, arizona. >> what can you tell us of those you have there? >> i can tell you right now that gabrielle giffords is currently in surgery. there were nine patients brought here. of all the others there was one child. all are either in critical or serious condition at this point. >> all right. let's begin with the congresswoman and the news you bring us is good. you say that she is alive and has gone into surgery. do we know anything about how she with was wounded or injured? >> we're having a briefing in about 40 minutes, but i can confirm that she was shot in the head. >> and the other that's have come to you, once again, you said -- was there a child as well? >> yes. >> and do you know anything of the conditions of those that have come in? >> at this point, i can only
report that they're either in critical or serious condition. >> and are they all victims of gunshots? >> as far as i know. >> and did you go to some sort of emergency staffing procedure? in other words, how were you alerted as to what had happened and what to expect? >> i was paged and we set up an incident center here. >> i presume the hospital, like many, trains and is prepared, when notified, to get ready for emergencies of this nature. >> absolutely. >> and what is typical? what would you do? >> i check in with the security and police officers and the administrators of the hospital and we coordinate a place where we gather to get -- we organize the media that arrives here. like i said, we're going to be having an official briefing in about 40 minutes at 1:30 tucson time. >> do you know who's going to take part in briefing and what
it is we'll be informed about? >> we'll bring you up-to-date with with as many details as possible. i don't know who will be the primary spokesman for that. >> i presume this is going to be a medical update, in other words nothing about an investigation. this is about the conditions of those people brought to you. >> i don't know that for sure. definitely a medical update. >> all right. please repeat for us because there are people who constantly tune in and we want to get it from you directly. regarding congresswoman gabrielle giffords, she was brought to your medical facility. what do you know of her now? >> at this point in time, we know that they is currently in surgery for a gunshot wound to the head. >> and that surgery is ongoing at this time, correct? and that you have others that have been brought in with gunshot wounds as well? >> and are also in surgery, yes. >> very good. thank you for jointioning us. >> thank you. >> we want to turn now to andy hill, a retired phoenix police officer.
andy, are you there? >> yes, marty, i am. >> so first of all our hearts go out to your community for the tragedy that you have suffered there, and i'm wondering, as a retired police officer, just what you know of what's happened. >> first, let me agree with the tlaj di a tragedy and my condolences to the families. we work closely with the agencies in arizona, the federal agency like fbi. this is a joint investigation that's going on i'm told, and in any situation like this you just have to kind of of wait and let the pieces begin to fall into place. >> have you heard if the gunman has been taken into custody? >> i have been told that by a law enforcement source that, yeah, there is a suspect in custody. i've also been told that a number of peop number of people were shot. i would recommend everybody holds off as we just heard from the hospital spokeswoman because some things are